Friday, July 17, 2015

Visiting The Topps Pop Culture Exhibit

Topps currently have an exhibition at the Louisville Slugger Museum "Pop Culture: Home Runs To Hollywood" which has displays of all things Topps. As the title suggests the featured cards are mainly pop culture releases with some baseball sprinkled in. The exhibit opened in March and runs through October 4th, 2015.

The old expression goes "you've got to dance with the one that brung ya" and so the first display has some memorable classic cards like a graded 1952 Jackie Robinson and a 1954 Hank Aaron...but really all I could think of was "GET PENNY SLEEVES ON THOSE F**KING CARDS!"

There was also a touching display to the late Sy Berger, the Stan Lee of baseball cards, who passed away last December. 

As a critic of all things sports cards and damn nearly everything made by Topps, it was nice to be able to finally understand how Topps cards are made!

Here's the seven step process they use.

Step #1. Idea
Step #2. Design
Step #3. Research Photo/Info
Step #4. Compose
Step #5. Proof
Step #6. Print, Cut, Ship
Step #7. Evaluate

I'm happy that maybe, in some small way, myself and other card bloggers have taken part in Step 7
of this process.

There was also an amusing poster highlighting error cards Topps issued. I noticed one of the cards highlighted was the infamous George Bush behind Derek Jeter card from 2007 Topps was included and as we all know that "error" card was intentional. Some might even call it a "gimmick card." But no, they are actually "manufactured error card" so Stale Gum you're on notice!

And also, I sure hope Topps is having a laugh by labeling the Derek Jeter card as being from 2003 instead of 2007. An error on the error card display? It's just to right on the nose.

And there was an obligatory Topps Bunt display as well. Man I wish they had instructions on how you are supposed to play that game like they described how Topps makes cards, 

But now let's get down to the pop culture stuff! I knew Topps had this exhibition going on before going to the museum but I didn't know specifically what was there. I had no idea how much much cool and interesting stuff they would have like for instance Indian Jones' bull whip!

And as I highlighted in my first museum post they had the original prop of Jobu from Major League that helped the Indians win the pennant. 

Topps made In Living Color cards in case you didn't know/forgot! Be sure to track down that Jim Carrey rookie card! 

Christopher Reeve's Superman costume was also on display and I was struck by how thin and fragile the fabric was. They also had a box of unopened packs of the 1980 Topps Superman 2 set. I say forget that set and go straight to Superman III to get your Richard Pryor rookie card!

But by far my favorite piece was this Adam West Batman costume that has never been on display before. I'll have to go back a watch some those great episodes and see if his cowl was really that purple or if it has faded over the years. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Louisville Slugger Error Bat

There was no way that I was getting out of the Louisville Slugger Museum without taking a bat with me. And you have an infinite amount of possibilities of that that bat will look like. You can get the mini bat [free if you take the tour], mini bats for just about any player, or a personalized full size bat engraved right in front of you. But what really caught my eye were the rejected/error bats. Something went wrong in their creation from tree to lumber to baseball bat and so they can be yours at a fraction of the price of a completed, perfect bat. 

Here's my bat which looks pretty standard minus the knobs on the top or bottom which haven't been cut off yet. 

I looked through that bat pile earlier for a bat that had a really powerful "Louisville Slugger" and "Powerized' brand on it and I think I did pretty well.

Flipping the bat around you will discover why it didn't meet Louisville Slugger's quality control. A big chunk of the bats barrel broke out during production and so it was into the discard pile with this one until I walked through the door.

In my next post I'll highlight the Topps exhibition they are staging at the museum through the end of October focusing on the pop culture sets Topps has made through the years.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Louisville Slugger Museum

If you ever get the chance to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum don't miss it. Even if you are just driving through invest 20 minutes to the gift shop and the very front of the store [without even paying to get into the museum] because it will be well worth your time. 

In the very front they have a gigantic display of all the players that have been featured on their bats since the company started. I went through the signatures and took some photos of some of my favorite players. 1942 saw my favorite player Andy Pafko featured on a Louisville Slugger and someday I hope to track down a Pafko bat for myself. 

Here are a few more of my favorites: Ken Hubbs from 1959.

Brothers Henry Aaron and Tommie years apart.

Here are a couple favorites of my podcasting partner, Dayf, The Cardboard Junkie,  Jason Heyward from 2013 and Cookie Rojas from 1959.

I was surprised that Jim Thome didn't have a personalized Louisville Slugger until 2001...and also that John Jaha ever had one!

And last but not least we have two personal for his afro and one for his uni-brow!

 Topps currently has an exhibition at the Museum and I will highlight that in a future post...but here's a little taste of what they had on display. The original JoBu!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Metropolis, Illinois Part 3

As I was researching Metropolis to see if the city was really, truly named Metropolis or was it changed later as a publicity/tourism stunt [DISH, Texas, I'm looking at you!]. Turns out it's always been Metropolis as best I can least longer than Superman has been a going concern. But during my research I also found that Metropolis is also home to another "Man of Steele" other than the Last Son of Krypton. A man named John Steele was born in Metropolis in 1912 and he was a paratrooper who took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. 

During his parachute drop Steele became entangled on a church tower in the town of Sainte-Mère-Église. Steele pretended to be dead and was eventually taken prisoner by the Germans. Steele's landing ended up being a fortunate error in that many of his fellow paratroopers were killed when they landed around Sainte-Mère-Église because the Nazis quickly set up lights that let them target the soldiers easily. 

Steele's D-Day story was made famous in The Longest Day and he was played by Red Buttons who watched in horror as his compatriots were killed. 

Across the street from the famous Superman statue they have a mural dedicated to the men and women from Metropolis who have served to defend our freedom.

A large portion of the mural is in honor of Steele and his fateful trip.

The accompanying plaque tells his story. Someday I hope to visit Normandy and see the memorial that was created in Sainte-Mère-Église with a parachute dangling from the spire of the church

Monday, July 13, 2015

Metropolis, Illinois Part 2

Although one of the main claims to fame for Metropolis, Illinois is the city's large Superman statue, the city has another imposing statue located in front of the Big John Market grocery store.  

When you're competing with Superman you've got to bring your A-game.

Metropolis' two favorite sons. As best I can tell the Big John's in Metropolis is the store's only location. 

Metropolis, Illinois Part 1

As Laura and I were planning our trip back to Lawrence, KS from Atlanta for her graduation we found that the little town of Metropolis, Illinois was situated about half way through our journey and the perfect spot to stop for the evening. We had driven through Metropolis on our initial trip to Atlanta and the signs advertising a big Superman statue and so I was certainly going to stop during our next trip through. 

A few blocks of the downtown area of Metropolis has been completely given over to their favorite son. Metropolis Comics has a nice little Superman museum and is a must for anyone visiting. 

You have to tip your hat to a comic shop that has the brilliant idea to paint some rocks with day glow paint and sell them as Kryptonite...and yes, it glows in the dark.

Down a block from the comic shop and right in front of a school is the famous Superman statue that reads "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" on the bottom.

I think I pull off a cape pretty well.

On another trip through Metropolis this cool vintage car [Studebaker I believe...but please tell me if it isn't] was parked in front of the shop. It gave the street a feeling like you had stepped back into the first issue of Action Comics which has Superman throwing a green car.

The view of Metropolis from our hotel room. It's not quite the Metropolis I had in my mind but it's a nice little city with one very interesting claim to fame.